A few posts ago, during Scammed Hard's Federal Jobs Update, some folks claimed that the analysis was a little misleading, and that students shouldn't write off government work as "impossible." Despite there being only 332 federal government attorney positions open, for a class of some 45,000 3Ls, the law school cheerleaders made sure to tell us that all is not lost. State and local governments can still provide one of those hallowed public-sector jobs for the thousands of desperate law grads out there!
From my old Minnesota home, we have this sad story about the horrible state of local public defenders' offices. This is merely the latest in a slew of reports about how quality and court access have suffered due to (what else) budget cuts. Yes, like the decimated private sector, local governments are tightening their belts and cutting way, way back. And it's not just big, bloated states like California, New York, or New Jersey that are leading the pack. Minnesota Lawyer has steadily been reporting that clerkship funding is in question, many county courthouses can't afford to remain open a full business day, and that things are only going to get worse. What's one thing that the state is not going to want to do, at a time when they can barely keep the lights on? Hire a new crop of rookie attorneys.
Hey, at least it's not as bad as in New Jersey or California, where law graduates are asked to commit to volunteering for local and state government offices for 6-12 months, unpaid, with no offer of full-time employment. (They're compensated with the valuable experience, you know!) The worst part is that these work-for-free scams report that they're positively flush with applicants.
I'm sure that Minnesota court administrators will want to consider the old work-for-free stopgap that seems to be working so well for other states. What with four local law schools (three of which are middling TTTs) and 1,000 new grads every year, there has always been a surplus of desperate, unemployed attorneys here. What better way to solve the state's court and legal services crises than "the California method?" Although, having gone to school here, I can attest that many state government offices already make use of low-paid (or more commonly unpaid) student and graduate workers to hack away at their massive backlog of legal work.
Prospective students, continue to take heed. Did you go to law school with dreams of working for free, indefinitely? To carry that $100,000+ in red ink around for six months, a year, or more, plugging away at a volunteer position which is happy to have your free labor, but will never offer you a cent in wages? Yes, the law truly is one of the most glittering and prestigious of professions.